Crust problems with my mini-baguettes
I am a new member but a longtime reader. I have been making my own bread now for several years. Only recently have I started being more scientific about my technique and ingredients and this weekend I tried a 75% hydration recipe consisting of the following poolish that I let ferment on my countertop overnight (ended up being exactly 9 hours):
- 100g rye flour
- 50g all purpose flour
- 375g water
- 1pinch sugar
- 1tsp yeast
The poolish was more wet than I had originally planned. To be quite honest, I intended to only put 150g of water but I had a brain freeze and put in 375g. The next morning though the poolish looked very active and smelled yeasty. I added the poolish to a bowl of this:
- 200g stone ground sifted flour
- 200g all purpose flour
- 37.5g water
- 2tsp salt (dissolved in the water)
I then mixed ingredients with a mixer until just incorporated and then stretch and pulled the dough by hand until the gluten formed nicely. I then folded into 4ths, let rest for 20 minutes, and then folded into 4ths 2 more times every 20 minutes. Into the fridge it went for exactly 22 hours.
The next day I cut the dough into 75g chunks, shaped into balls and let rest for 45 minutes on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Next I shaped the balls into baguettes by flattening the balls, folding the top and bottom to the center, flattening lightly, and repeating. I then folded in two and cinched the ends shut. The final baguettes were about 4 inches long. I proofed these on the counter on a floured napkin for 45 minutes. My kitchen is about 23 degrees. The recipe yielded 12 minis with two weighing 65g.
After the proof, I scored each baguette 3 times on the top 3rd overlapping each score halfway. In retrospect, I think I didn't score deeply enough as I cut maybe only a few millimeters straight down. I then slid the baguettes onto an oven stone that was on a rack about 1/3 from the bottom of the oven which was preheating for 45 minutes at 480F. I also sprayed water on the sides of the oven every few minutes. Here is the problem. I only cook my bread until it reaches 200F which took only about 15 minutes (I wasn't timing precisely at this point for some reason). The crust on my baguettes was very soft and about half of them burst. Most of the bursting was on the side but some burst on top. The seams from the folding, I should note, were on the bottom so I don't think these were the cause of bursting. So my questions are how do I improve my crust (I am looking for a really crisp crust) without overcooking the crumb and how can I avoid the bursting? Next time I will try cooking the bread on the rack 1/3 from the top of the oven which might help make the crust more crispy. For the bursting, I am guessing this was caused by inadequate steam or could it be due to my folding technique?
In any case, the bread tasted great. The center of the baguettes was very strong from the folding and the crumb was light and flavorful.